Thursday, February 7, 2013

One-use item: Cockatrice arrows

This is just a quick post to get this idea down before it flies out of my head. It isn't very original in conception, but hey, you do what you can.

Cockatrice Arrows

These arrows are fletched with cockatrice feathers. As such, they must be handled with gloves to avoid petrifaction. When shot at an enemy, they do normal damage, then provoke a HT-10 roll to avoid turning to stone, along with all carried and worn gear. The HT roll is at +1 per point of DR not penetrated, and is also given a modifier equal to SM (since it's harder to turn larger things to stone). Magic resistance does not add to the roll. The arrow is turned to stone as well, meaning each can only successfully be used once.

The arrows are otherwise normal, and can be enchanted normally. For obvious reasons, most arrows with cockatrice fletching bear bodkin points.

They are effectively priceless, as only a rare few enchanters know the trick of handling the feathers without being turned themselves and yet imbuing the effect on the arrow as a whole. If found on the open market, they might go for $10,000 per arrow.

Rumours persist of other similar arrows, made from the eggteeth of basilisks or like substances. Some even whisper of a bow whose string is made from the sinew of a medusa that confers this effect on all arrows fired from it.

This could also work as a sort of trap for greedy uncareful delvers, but I'd be very careful with this and make it clear that the feathers on those arrows inside that chest you just found are weird, and hey, are you sure you don't want to make a Hidden Lore (Magical Items) roll?


  1. Magic resistance doesn't help? That's pretty harsh. Still, I like it.

    1. I went back and forth on that. The reasons I voted against magic resistance in the end were twofold:

      1) Cockatrices and whatnot are supposed to be exceedingly deadly, a pretty much guaranteed kill. HT-10 is close, but not assured for your average DF monster; with plusses for non-Tough-Skin DR and size, that could easily scale to realms of easily plausible for them not to be turned to stone. Magic Resistance just adds on top of that.

      2) These aren't magical. They don't detect as magic items, either. They don't have the PM: Magical limitation, as it were.

    2. It would never have occurred to me to say that the cockatrice's petrifaction is not magical, but a natural effect. Must be my upbringing in D&D, lo those decades ago, when every oddball deadly creature had the "a mad wizard did it..." as it's raison d'etre.

      Still, yes, I think I'd roll a "passive" Hidden Lore role for someone in the party to jump forward and yell "Don't touch that!" in this case, lest you turn your ToEE into the Tomb of Horrors.

    3. I'd give it a Per-based Hidden Lore roll to know it's potentially dangerous. I know this hurts the souls of some bloggers, but GURPS does give your characters knowledge, too. ;)

      I like this, although personally I'd tweak it:

      - I wouldn't make DR matter. It gets through, or it doesn't. DR either stopping the attack cold or giving a resistance roll feels like double-dipping.

      - I'd have its effects match that of whatever you give a D&D-style cockatrice. If that means MR helps, so be it. If not, then not.

      Either way, HT-10 is extremely brutal. A HT 14 Barbarian with Very Fit and natural DR 2 has - ahem - a 10 or less to make it, despite 71 points of advantages and stats. Ouch! That's damn near automatic. I'd probably go HT-5, Contact Agent, so it's a HT-5 roll if anything gets through DR. Still nasty, but you don't need to be a tank to stop it.

    4. It's supposed to be brutal; these are supposed to be basically guaranteed to take out all but the nastiest of the nasty. I did the "DR not penetrated gives a bonus to resistance" thing to simulate how the touch of the cockatrice turns you no matter what you're wearing, but these are a little weaker. (It syncs up in feel, for me, with the bonus to HT vs afflictions granted by DR. This is an arrow, though, so it can penetrate some of that DR first.)

      As a trap, I wouldn't use this with people who aren't comfortable with save-or-die effects. Also, I'd be very clear there's something weird about these arrows, and give the Hidden Lore roll (as a sort of secondary save, I guess), because I'm of the "interesting obvious traps" school.

      I probably wouldn't use it as a trap at all; the image just came to me of "how are they going to procure these things when they find them?"

    5. Oh, I get the rules angle on it. I just see it as "knight will be okay, everyone else is stone" attack.

    6. Good point. I might make it magical DR only or something else of that nature. Though my idea of implementation is more giving them to the party than using them against the party.

  2. You could have the arrows do partial petrification damage. Maybe the amount of damage the arrow does remains petrified and can't be healed until a stone to flesh spell is used. If the arrow does enough damage to equal the Hit Point toal of the victim then the victim is completely turned to stone. This way you could still have HT - 10 to resist but it would not take the victim out of play so automatically.

    1. That's an interesting possibility. I had toyed with thinking about partial petrifaction - say, on a failure - but I couldn't suss out how to do it in an easy, intuitive fashion. (There's the old classic penalty to move.)